1916: A most terrible year

Known to posterity as the bloodiest year of the war, 1916 earns this sobriquet having seen the great battles of attrition at Verdun and the Somme, the sparks of a civil war brewing within Britain during the Dublin ‘Easter Rising,’ and the introduction of conscription for the first time within Britain. All notions of romanticism within the war had long since died, crushed under the German Jackboot and sheer tonnage of shells required to feed the remorseless slaughter. For those serving at the front, the early enthusiasm seems also to have waned as the reality of the static warfare they were engaged in set in. Many of those men who had joined up in the initial ‘rush to war’ were either now deceased, invalided home or had spent 2 harsh winters in the trenches, with no end to the war in sight…

We will be picking up a number of the players stories again, detailing how and where they served their country. Leading up to the significant anniversary this year: that of the 1st July 1916, the first day of the offensive now simply known as ‘The Somme,’ we will also attempt to trace those players that were caught up in the fateful events of that terrible day.

Thiepval: The memorial to the missing

Thiepval: The memorial to the missing of the Somme

We have had some fantastic responses from family’s of the players we have profiled so far, giving us information and artifacts that have really helped boost the project. Hopefully too we have helped them discover a little more about their ancestors. We always want to know more though, so if there is any sort of old family mythology around playing rugby (even if not for Saracens), or even better old shirt or caps lying around, please get in touch!

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